6 reforms for the Scottish Budget Process

As the various Committees begin to finalise their detailed scrutiny of the Draft Scottish Budget, we thought that we’d take the opportunity to reflect upon the process itself.

In the light of the Parliament’s new powers, a Budget Review Group has been established “to carry out a fundamental review of the Scottish Parliament’s budget process following the devolution of further powers in the Scotland Act 2012 and Scotland Act 2016”. The Group will report in the spring.

This blog offers some thoughts on possible reforms –

  1. A return to multi-year budgeting
  2. A change to the timing of the Scottish Budget so that it follows the new UK Autumn Budget but with increased time for parliamentary scrutiny earlier in the year
  3. A radical reworking of the structure and approach of the budget document itself
  4. A change of emphasis from reporting changes in portfolio spend to a focus more on outcomes
  5. More information presented on long-term commitments, constraints and liabilities
  6. A more transparent presentation of the new fiscal framework

Continue reading

January 18, 2017

Has the Scottish budget increased or decreased since 2010/11?

The Finance Committee meeting last Wednesday included a lively exchange about the extent to which the Scottish Government’s budget has changed since 2010/11.

Murdo Fraser argued that the Scottish budget has increased in real terms between 2010/11 and 2017/18. Cabinet Secretary for Finance Derek Mackay replied that there had been a real terms reduction in the Government’s discretionary spending.

Pointing to Annex G of the Draft Budget (which shows an increase from £34.2bn to £37bn), Mr. Fraser then asked whether Mr. Mackay had ‘got his sums wrong’. Mr. Mackay reiterated that there had been a real terms reduction in the government’s spending power of 9.2% over the period.

How can two such contrasting views be arrived at? Here we aim to shed some light on this debate.Continue reading

January 17, 2017